I heard Billy Joel’s song “Only the Good Die Young” on the radio. And I thought, “Man, this is kind of ugly. I don’t think this would fly in today’s climate. Mocking this girl’s religion and pressuring her into sex?”
And yet. It’s just a song. Maybe we have gotten too sensitive these days.
Some of the people in my writer’s workshop, and others, have started a second group to work on marketing our indie books together. We have been meeting to study up on indie marketing and draw up actions plans to publicize our books.
The first thing to do, is to provide a professional presence for your books and yourself as a writer on social media. Facebook, Twitter, whatever you like to use. A website/blog is also a essential. Look for some changes at this blog in the future. For example, I changed the primary domain name from atlantisfallen.net to kirstencorby.com, to reflect the fact that my current work in progress is not the next book in my imagined “Atlantis Fallen” series, but a science fiction novel. The website is currently about all my writing, not just Atlantis Fallen.
The next step is to create a Facebook page: Kirsten Corby, Author. Again, advertising myself, the author, not just Atlantis Fallen, the books. I can always create an Atlantis Fallen Group or Page later, once I finish the next book, which is currently called, The Gift of the Lion .
I’m thinking about Twitter or Instagram. I kind of hate Twitter, but it has a strong #WritingCommunity based around that hashtag — it even has a newsletter. Instagram has a friendlier vibe. But the fact is, I’m already wondering about good, useful content to post on FB and more regularly here. Not sure I can generate worthwhile content for four different platforms.
I’ll update if I add those platforms. But probably, it’s better to concentrate on what I already have, this blog, and my new FB page. Please visit it and tell me what you think: Kirsten Corby, Author.
Oh, there’s also Goodreads — I have a page there — but that’s a whole other thing. We’ll talk about that later.
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Neil Armstrong made his one giant leap 50 years and about one hour ago.
I at 53 am just barely old enough to remember the Apollo program. I remember watching Apollo 11 lift off from Cape Canaveral with my parents and my newborn baby brother, on our little black and white TV. I knew enough to know it was terribly, terribly important, although I didn’t understand why. I do not remember the the actual landing, I don’t know why. Maybe I didn’t see it; it was way past my bedtime. I was only three years old.
But I learned about Apollo 11 by reading the commemorative issue of Newsweek magazine that my mom kept and carefully preserved, and is still at her house.
I am old enough to remember the later missions. I clearly remember seeing incredibly vivid live color pictures of Apollo 17 bouncing around the Taurus-Littrow valley in their “moon buggy,” as it was nicknamed, the Lunar Rover. I also remember thinking that we were going to see a lot more of that, that we would build a moonbase and it would become a regular thing. And being excited.
I loved the space program as a kid. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was tiny, not a nurse or a mommy — until I suddenly realized that my eyesight was far too bad to ever become a jet pilot, and so I would never be allowed into the space program. (That was still the case back then.) Lego had a giant “Moonbase” set that I wanted so badly, but never got because it was hella expensive.
My second grade reader was all about the space program, and I learned about the Mercury and Gemini programs that preceded Apollo, about the astronauts and their capsules — Friendship 7, Freedom 7, Liberty Bell 7. It was not lost on me that they were named things like Friendship and Freedom, not Javelin or War Eagle or anything like that. I was young enough to completely accept the propaganda that the moon shot was an endeavor of pure science and human achievement, conducted in the spirit of exploration and inquiry, nothing so grubby as politics. That propaganda probably contributed to my lifelong disdain for money and the profit motive and the balance sheet, and my choice of a career in public service. As I grew older and realized Apollo had been a tool of the Cold War all along, it was bitterly disillusioning.
(But still, that war was fought at least partly by these peaceful means after all, exploration and discovery, not weapons and conquest. They turned missiles into spacecraft, not the other way around — the Redstone rockets that launched the early Mercury missions.)
That, the race having been won, America and the world turned its back on the moon and space exploration has been one of the biggest disappointments of my life. I grew up reading Heinlein juveniles and watching original Star Trek and 2001:A Space Odyssey. I thought our future lay in space. I still do. It is our very nature to explore and expand. We, homo sapiens, walked out of Africa over 70,000 years ago, and we walked, sailed, swam to every habitable corner of this planet. To see what’s beyond the horizon, to pierce the new frontier, is in our very DNA. We turn our back on that urge at our peril, I think.
To my mind, Apollo is still the pinnacle of human achievement. Apollo is my touchstone to the thought that the human race is capable of true greatness, true excellence. That our reach does not exceed our grasp. We went from Kitty Hawk to Tranquility Base in sixty years. We did the impossible. Apollo proves that we, the human race, can do anything we want to, if we have the will.
Many of the challenges that face the human race right now seem impossible to solve. But they’re not, if we face them squarely and have the will to meet them. I want us to have that will again. I know we can, because I saw men walk on the moon, who went in peace for all mankind.
Hey, just wanted to give everyone an update. I live in New Orleans, LA and we are awaiting Tropical Storm Barry. So far nothing much happening, as you can see. It’s raining but not much else.
The concern this time was that the storm surge Barry pushes up the river could overtop the levees. The river is already at record levels for this time of year, due to all the flooding this year in the Midwest. Most of the concern is for parts farther south of the city. But it’s a concern. The levees have never been overtopped in my lifetime.
Luckily, the surge is looking not to be as large as feared, and the levees appear to be in no danger.
In case you didn’t know, this is climate change. This is it. It’s here, now. Not some Boogeyman of the future.
Wednesday morning we got a feeder band spun off in advance of the storm – a line of squalls – and it was crazy! We got EIGHT INCHES of rain in NINETY MINUTES! This overwhelmed the pumping system, and we had street flooding in places it’s never happened before, like the French Quarter. The city was at a standstill. More such rain is expected when the storm makes landfall later today.
This storm is unusual in that all the moisture is on the back end, “behind” the eye as it travels. So for us, the really heavy weather is yet to come.
The government instructions are to “shelter in place.” No evacuations. So my family is hunkered down with storm supplies – water, snacks and batteries. We’ve done this before. But every storm is different. The only way to know what Barry will do is to wait and see.
When I was shouldering my way into Geek Fest, April, one of my colleagues, encouraged me to donate a few copies of my book to the library, so that attendees could check them out. Which is something I always intended to do, but never got around to, because of my shyness. Another way I just “had to do it,” as Alys Arden said, but didn’t.
But with April’s encouragement, I did, and the cataloging department kindly had them ready in time for Geek Fest.
Of course, I earmarked a copy for my own branch that I manage.
That’s it above. One of my staff members put it on display. They were excited to finally see it.
“They could make a movie out of this!” my coworker Belami said.
(I think so too, but find the possibility unlikely.)
And now, all three copies of my book are checked out and there is even a waiting list! I have to tell you, that makes you feel like a real author.
It was lovely to receive this support from my coworkers. It’s encouraging.
That’s the thing about “just having to do it,” — it’s not all nerves and anguish. It can be good too. You get support. There are rewards. (Besides, you know, selling books.) This is what I learned from this.
And the more you do it, the easier it gets.
So, if you are an indie author like me, you might look into donating a few copies of a book to your local library. Particularly the first book in a series, if you have one. It’s another way for people to discover your work. If they like it well enough, they may be moved to buy your subsequent books.
If you work exclusively with e-books, you might look into the SELF-e platform libraries use. Again, it’s a donation, but it’s a way to get noticed.
It’s up to the inclinations of individual libraries and librarians whether they collect indie authors or not. Some libraries are very supportive of their local authors. Some are not. But it can’t hurt to offer.
DON’T, however, try to sneak in a purchase request for your books as if you were just a regular patron. We librarians can always tell, it smacks of desperation, and it just pisses us off. Be above board and donate a few copies if you can. If nothing else, they will go to the library book sale. You will get noticed and help the library earn a couple dollars.
So I did have a really great time. But the thing is, I had to force myself to do it. Represent myself as an author allied with the library, who deserved to be there.
I have real issues with marketing my work. I’m so introverted and socially avoidant, I quail at the thought of putting myself or my work out there, even if it’s just online. God forbid actually in public in front of real people.
But you have to do it. No one’s going to read your books if they don’t know they’re there.
When my book was first published, I asked Alys, “How do you make yourself market your book?”
And she said, “You just have to do it. You just have to put yourself out there. It’s hard. But you just do it, and it gets easier.”
Well, I struggled and avoided it for a long time, but when I learned of Geek Fest, I thought, I have to be involved in this. I thought, Hey, why aren’t I on that panel?
So I talked to the organizers, some of my colleagues at Main Library, and said, “Hey, I want to be on that panel at Geek Fest.” And they said okay.
And it went well. And there are rewards too:
This is Bethany. She came up to me after the panel. I thought she was going to give me grief for trash-talking Laurel K. Hamilton. (An unpopular opinion.)
But no. She said, “I’m Bethany. I work with your husband. He gave me your book to read, and I loved it!”
Wow! My first time hearing from a fan out in the field. What an incredible moment. Isn’t this why we write at all? To reach people, to be heard? Thank you, Bethany!
“She said, “I just wanted you to know.” I offered her one of my cards with this website on it, and she said, “I have one, Sam gave it to me.” So, hi Bethany! Great to meet you! We talked about my follow-on book to Daughter of Atlas, which isn’t a straight sequel, but shows what happens elsewhere when Atlantis falls. Which Bethany said was what she was curious about in a sequel. So that was wildly encouraging.
They say that’s the way indie authors build their fan base, one reader at a time. The only way you can do that is by reaching out to them, both on and off-line.
So, if you are struggling with marketing your books, don’t be afraid. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Go ahead and shoulder yourself onto a panel at your local sci-fi con. You never know who you might meet.
Tomorrow is both Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you) and Free Comic Book Day. And to celebrate, New Orleans Public Library with have its third (I think) annual Geek Fest, a one-day mini-con of all things geek. There will be vendors, a cosplay fashion show and workshop, gaming, snacks, and more. The Best Buy Teen Center makerspace will be open for everyone to play.
I’ll be on the Science Fiction Writers panel at 11:00 AM with other local authors. The topic is , “Can sci-fi affect change in the real world?” What do you think?
Dreamed I was playing D&D again. It wants to come back into my life.
My brother’s character, who was a bard of some type, had an actual animated, talking pile of garbage as some sort of familiar.
My character, who was a ranger veteran just back from the wars, said, “What the hell is this?”
Pete sniffed, “It’s a perfectly common magical construct.”
I said, “It’s a talking pile of garbage!”
Mouthy, too. It kept interrupting.
Our dad was playing, too, but he hasn’t played in decades, so he needed a lot of hand-holding. We had another new player, too, a young lady I knew from work, I think. She wanted to cosplay as her character, which, fine, but she was also being shy and creating a lot of drama about it. Which was a drag, but I was trying to give her a break because she was new. Much as in real D&D, we were simultaneously our characters, and our actual selves.
Our milieu was a rambling, seedy subtropical city on the shores of a shallow sea, built on many islands. Like a sweaty Venice. (New Orleans in the future?)
The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off has reached its finals: the blogger/reviewers have chosen their 10 finalists, and all will read all to determine the winner. Read about it here.
My book is not among them. In fact it was cut during the first round of eliminations.
Ouch. That hurt. But I have to admit that I seriously overestimated my chances on this thing. There are many, many authors entered in the Blog-Off that are far more experienced than me.
The mini-reviw of my book on Team Weatherwax is here. The reviewer (not sure who) said Daughter of Atlas has “pacing issues.” Ugh. That’s hard to hear. But no else who’s ever read or reviewed it (that I know of) has ever said that, so I guess it’s a matter of opinion.
My biggest disappointment from being cut so early, though, is that DoA didn’t get a cocktail made to memorialize it by Book Wol of Tome & Tankard. I was so looking forward to that. There is a general cocktail for all the early losers here.
One thing I have noticed, is that most (I think eight out of ten) of the finalist books have more “painterly” covers than your usual indie-published books, with their Photoshopped covers. It looks like the authors paid to have artists actually paint cover paintings for their books, or at least composit them in a more illustrative style than the usual photorealistic , CGI’d indie covers we are used to. It makes the books more “professional” looking, that is, more like commercially published books. It probably contributes a positive halo effect to the books. They are appropriate to the genre, fantasy, and are what readers expect to see.
(Not that I am displeased by the cover of my book, or having second thoughts. I love the cover of DoA, and I have always received positive feedback from it. But it is something to keep in mind for future works.)
Author and YouTube book vlogger Quinn Buckland gave DoA a stellar review here. Check it out. Thanks Quinn!
My interview by Michael Baker of the Thousand Scars Muse blog is here. I did see a small sales spike from that, thank you Michael.
And I have a new review on GoodReads from XDesoto, here.
Well, there’s always next time. My forthcoming book is science fiction, so I can’t enter SPFBO with that, but I will return to fantasy and to my series Atlantis Fallen in the future, so hopefully one day I will be able to enter the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off again.
Does anyone know if there is a similar contest for indie sci-fi?
Finally, let me extend my thanks to Mark Lawrence, who founded the Blog-Off, and to all the bloggers and reviewers, who are putting in an incredible amount of work on their own time, for love of reading and the genre, and also to all my fellow authors. Good luck to all the finalists!